Thursday, April 26, 2007


It's 2:22 pm and I'm listening to the most beautiful sound in the world.

I'm sitting at my computer in the front room, eating my breakfast cereal. I've been up all day, but after feeding Ada - the morning's first order of business! - and seeing Paul and Ellie off to work and school, I exercised for 45 minutes with Ada in a front carrier. That's the third time this week! Yay me! If I keep this up, I should be able to look in a mirror by the end of summer, and I do intend to look at myself in a mirror again someday soon.

Before I'd had time to sit down or stop sweating, I loaded Ada into the carseat and we headed out to the bank's drive-thru to deposit the last paycheck from Paul's old job. Wahoo! Paul has a new job just 10 minutes from home, no highway driving! With all new people, most of whom have vastly more positive attitudes than those he used to work with. Since his old job was a significant part of our marriage problems, this is especially welcome.

But I digress. When we got back from the bank, I changed and fed Ada, then nursed her again and put her down for a few minutes while I showered. I threw on some clothes and ran outside with wet hair to meet Ellie's bus. She was hungry immediately, so I prepared her lunch (extra cheesy Boca burger) while trying to hold a sleepy/fussy Ada.

When Adelaide started screaming, I sat down to feed her. Confession: I turned on the TV to relax while nursing. Ellie finished eating and curled up on the floor in front of Ellen. 15 minutes later, they were both asleep. I carried Ellie to bed for her nap, but Ada wouldn't be left alone for another hour or so. The two of us laid in my bed until Adelaide was deeply asleep and Ellie woke up.

Currently, Ellie's awake and in the family room watching her daily 22 minute allotment of Dora the Explorer while eating her afternoon snack (yogurt). I have a few minutes to myself, for computer and breakfast. Soon it will be time for games with Ellie, house-straightening, and dinner preparation.

But right now, now is a beautiful moment. The skies have opened with torrents of rain and the sky is suddenly dark. I'm listening to Ellie participating with her television show in the next room. "One, two, three, four, five, six," she's counting aloud.

She's counting aloud. She's counting aloud all on her own. She can count to twenty. And she counts everything, from buckles on the car seat to steps in every staircase we encounter. She is also learning her ABCs, and I'm not doing anything special to teach her, using none of the special Down syndrome learning tools. I've taken to calling Ellie my little smartypants. I mean it in a very positive way, and I'm sure that's obvious from my tone, by her beamingly proud face.

My Ellie might not be the one to discover the cure for cancer, but she is a miracle to me, and she's my amazing, smart little daughter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Working at Home or Elsewhere

This one's less personal and more of a response to the at-home-mom vs. working-outside-the-home-mom debate.

In the comments to my last post about work, Paper Whore said, "I am a strong supporter of 'if you can afford to have a parent stay home, they should'."

I'd qualify this to add that we should consider many more factors than just finances during the affordability discussions. For example:
  • Is the at-home parent considering returning to work someday? If so, it makes a lot of sense to keep a finger in that pie.
  • What if the unthinkable happens the marriage falls apart? Without an "in" at a paying job, the at-home parent is in a tenuous position at best.
  • Do you find being at home full-time rewarding and fulfilling? I know that when I returned to work 12 hours per week when Ellie was 15 months old, that made me a better mother to her and a happier person overall.
  • Choosing to have one partner support the family financially while the other stays home to care for the children will likely change some things in your relationship and the way each partner sees him/herself and partner. It's worth considering those changes.
  • There's no use denying that most at-home parents are women, mothers. And there's no use denying that there's prejudice against women in the workplace because of that. It's lovely to pretend that our decisions are made in a vacuum and affect only us, but in reality the ways in which we choose to live our lives have much greater effects than that, not least with the examples we set for the children we're raising.
Paper Whore also said, "We chose not to outsource parenting."

I have a stronger reaction to this point.
  1. It's incredibly offensive to the families who - for any number of good reasons - choose for both parents to work outside the home.
  2. I hardly think that 8 hours a day, 5 days a week - or less, depending on how parents arrange their schedules - is "outsourcing parenting." Or, if it is, isn't that what we're doing every time we hire a babysitter? Ask the in-laws to watch the kids for a hour? Send the kids off to school for the day?
"Outsourcing parenting" would be hiring someone to have primary responsibility for your children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, throughout their childhoods.

Amanda said, I think that daycare or preschool or whatever, where children get to interact with other kids and adults, is good for children. If you can provide that if you stay at home then that's great. I know it's pretty hard now with friends who work or even if they stay home.

Very good point.

The first time I took Ellie to visit her first preschool/daycare, we went to the toddler room. One-year-olds - babies, in my eyes! - were eating yogurt cups at snacktime and serving themselves with spoons. None of the other children in our at-home-mom playgroups were doing anything like that at the time. Our first children were far less independent and self-sufficient. But it gives kids a lot of pride to be able to do things for themselves.

In my opinion, the decision to work outside the home or to stay at home with the children full-time is an intensely personal one. No hard-and-fast rules apply to all families. That said, our decisions are not made in a vacuum. Many pressures are applied to both fathers and mothers, and the decisions we make can help to shape the debate for future families.

Here's hoping that at some point in the future, perhaps even in my lifetime, it becomes more of a common choice for fathers to stay home, and that mothers are judged less harshly regardless of which path they decide to take. I know that a lot of the criticism of moms who work by moms who stay home, and the criticism of moms who stay home by moms who work, comes from a feeling that each choice implies judgement of those who choose differently. It shouldn't.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Racy Dolls

Let me preface this story by saying that once you have a 3-year-old who can get out of her car seat's 5-point safety harness, "baby-proofing" the house is nearly futile. Mostly, we don't try, except for the door at the top of the basement stairs and access to all poisonous chemicals.

Ellie got a dollhouse from Paul's parents for Christmas. It looks like this, and she absolutely loves it.

Tonight, while straightening up before bed, I found this in the dollhouse.

It looks like Mama or Daddy Doll had high hopes for tonight! Too bad their bed is currently covered with every mattress and pillow in the entire house, and all the home's inhabitants are camped out in the master suite. This company currently includes a few Fisher-Price Little People, Dora's cousin Diego, and Glinda the Good Witch (from a road trip Happy Meal) in addition to the entire dollhouse family.

What a party!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kill You With Cute

Everybody knows that after a warm shower, when your milk has let down, you need to wear breast pads, right? You should see her trying to pump milk for Ada, or nurse her directly. Too cute.


Why is "Sleep" such a fun game? This is a popular variation: Sleep on the Chaise Lounge.

Packing for the Wyoming trip.

Are you jealous?

It wasn't cold, but there was snow on the mountain.

And now we're home. After driving all night twice in well under a week, we're not playing at sleep anymore!

Now I'm off to do the real thing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Not the Diapers, Not the Garden Tools

On Thursday evening, Paul and I packed up the cool car, dropped Lizzi off with friends (Jessica from Daughter of Opinion, see sidebar), and headed west. We made it to Wyoming and Paul's parents' home by noon on Friday, spent a lovely weekend there, and drove back last night. 17 hours each way, about 1100 miles. It was a great weekend, and I hope to post pictures tomorrow. (I'm too lazy/tired to pull them off the camera tonight.)

Rather than no post at all, I just want to mention two brief rants about the whole Imus fiasco.

1) Racist, racist, racist. So damn true. Also, sexist, sexist, sexist. That seems to be slightly lost in the media hubbub.

2) This media gang pile on Imus annoys me. What, all the journalists and politicians who started refusing to have anything to do with Imus after his comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, or started calling for his ouster, none of these people noticed that Imus has always been racist and sexist?

Jon Meacham from Newsweek said something about previously believing that the good of Imus's program outweighed the bad.

I'd be a little more inclined to believe the sincerity of that sentiment if there were a more public outcry against other "shock jocks" and cultural institutions that are blatantly sexist or racist.

Having just driven past probably a dozen shiny, new Hooters-type restaurants in the last 24 hours, I have a hard time believing that the Imus uproar is anything more than the self-righteous posturing of people more interested in following popular opinion than critically examining the ways in which racism and sexism are entrenched in our popular culture.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

C'mon, Baby

"You know you want it."

This is what I heard a man saying when I answered my phone this morning. The caller turned out to be a phone banker calling for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) membership renewal drive.

(Apparently, he was talking to a coworker when I picked up the phone. Regardless, I'm betting the guy was a paid employee, rather than a volunteer, passionately devoted to the cause.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Man Wins

If a man donates or sells sperm to a clinic, does he later have the right to go back and withdraw his sperm from circulation?

Does a man have a right to force his sex partner to have an abortion if he does not want a child?

The answers are no and no, after embryos are created.

Yes, men have the right to choose too. But pregnancy is not a 50/50 experience, and nor is termination. A man's right to choose is sometime around the time he "donates" his sperm. If he doesn't want to be a daddy, he should not walk into the clinic and pick up that magazine, and he should not have unprotected sex with a woman. Regardless of her fertility status or use of contraceptive, if a man does not want to be a parent he should always, always, always wear a condom. It's not 100% perfect, but it's the best he can do. And there's no such thing as perfectly safe sex, for anyone.

This rant brought to you by my frustration at this news story out of the UK: UK woman loses appeal over embryos.

In summary, a woman and her partner "sought fertility treatment" and she underwent IVF. Later, they broke up and he "withdrew consent" for her to use the remaining embryos created from her eggs and his sperm.

It's irrelevant to the legal situation, but further exemplifies what a jerk this guy is that the woman was diagnosed with a precancerous condition in her ovaries and had to have them removed. These saved embryos are her last chance to conceive a baby.

I think he might have a case regarding whether or not he's financially responsible for any resultant children, but these embryos are already created. It's a little too late for him to back out now, and no way should he be allowed to decide that this woman can't have any more children.

My argument is this. IVF and accidental pregnancy aren't perfectly analogous. After a woman becomes pregnant, any decisions made about the embryo (to allow it to develop or to terminate the pregnancy) directly affect her body, not his, so after that point the choice is hers.

With IVF, I believe that each partner has rights to the embryos until they're emplanted. Niether should have the solo right to have the embryos destroyed. Either should have the right to use them, if the other partner doesn't want them. Before embryos are created, either partner should have the right to withdraw consent for use of their eggs/sperm.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Lovely Voice

I'm starting to be able to have the coolest conversations with Ellie, although she's still communicating mostly in single word utterances.

Some of her favorite multi-word utterances include, I ant some. I ant some. (slurred together like one adorable word: Iwantsome) and I sowwy.
I can't yet describe the way she says "thank you," though it's precious, and she still says, "pease" for please.

4 days a week, I ask Ellie what she did in school that day. Every time, she answers, "Bus!" Lately, she adds, "Arms up! Arms up!" (This refers to the application of the bus's safety harness, which she loves to remove en route. I scold her, of course, but am also secretly proud of her dexterity and problem-solving skills.)

One day, over lunch after school, she told me, with her own invented signs accompanying the words, "Run. Push. Fall down. Cry." Amazing! Wonderful! Story telling!

A few days ago, for the first time ever, Ellie asked me, "Why?" We were looking at a picture of her in the hospital after her heart surgery, with daddy feeding her a bottle. As she well knows, babies nurse. So "why?" was a very appropriate question! The next day, she actually answered a "Why?" question from me. (She wanted Lizzi's leash so that she could take her stuffed dog on a walk ou-side.) Fantastic! "What" and "Where" are so much simpler than "Why."

We're all about giving Ellie choices as often as possible, and lately when we do so, she puts her hands out to her sides, palms up, and says, "Pick. Pick."

Tonight, at dinner, Ellie was preoccupied with her homemade mac and cheese. Paul was talking to me about my lovely fingernails. I was explaining that I've let them get too long and need to make time to cut them back soon. They're beginning to make typing at the laptop and dealing with my contact lenses difficult.

Later, in bed, Ellie starting talking to me about cutting. She hasn't mastered scissors yet, but she enjoys practicing. She was talking about cutting Backpack, and I responded that if Backpack got cut, we'd have to fix it with Sticky Tape (these are Dora the Explorer references, for the uninitiated). Then she asked me if we'd need to fix my nails with sticky tape if I cut them!

She's hilarious! And perhaps this explains her great reluctance to allow us to clip her finger and toenails.

Edited to add a story. This morning, after preschool, Ellie was sitting on the toilet and I was standing in the doorway across from her, dancing and singing about potty, as I am wont to do.

"Cow!" Ellie interrupted me.
"What?" I asked.
"Cow! Cow! Mooo!"

I totally got dissed by my 3 year old. Time to lay off the Easter candy.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thinking Blogger

Many thanks to the wonderful, and incredibly strong, Emily Elizabeth for the nomination.

The Thinking Blogger Award rules here.
    I am flattered.
    And am embarrassed to admit that lately I haven't sought out blogs that make me think. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I've been keeping up with very few blogs, and those I have been reading have been more of an occasional "I wonder how my friends are doing" sort of read than a search for thought-provoking writing.
    My time, my brain, my new baby, my marriage . . .
    While even my "I wonder how my friends are doing" reads often challenge me to think, I'm just nominating one blogger today, because her blog really stands alone in terms of the way it stretches me, challenges me, and leaves me with much to mull over for days and weeks after I've read her.
    1. Blue at The Gimp Parade

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    Do You Floss? I Do.

    I had my semi-annual dental teeth cleaning this morning. I have a bit of a dental phobia, and only my attachment to my dentist's wife keeps me at his practice. I think the dentist himself is fine, but he doesn't offer nitrous, and I think I might enjoy dental work a little bit more if I were high. One time he prescribed some Xanax for me, but it didn't seem to help and my dad scared me away from trying it again.

    My mom ended her spring break visit a little earlier than I'd hoped, so I had no childcare this morning. This offered two additional stresses to the first post-pregnancy (read: cavities expected) teeth cleaning. I had a 10:00 appointment 15+ minutes from home and Ellie's bus drops her off at the house around 11:15. And I had to take the baby with me.

    Baby Ada is sweet and wonderful and flexible and willing to go all kinds of places on an erratic schedule. But not today. She screamed her head off all the way to the dentist's office despite being freshly diapered and fed. She continued crying once we were there.

    So after my x-rays, I picked her up from the dentist's wife, who was trying to soothe her while taking phone calls - she manages the front office - and nursed her throughout my entire cleaning. That was crazy, of course. Can you imagine nursing while lying flat on your back with a plastic bib over your chest and sharp instruments passing back and forth over the baby?

    Next let me say that at this appointment I learned that my overnight clenching problem hasn't subsided. Despite my expensive bite guard, some of my prophylactic sealant has worn off and two fillings need to be replaced. Drilling! Yay! Just Kidding! I'm really horrified! Somebody please get me some drugs!

    That said, despite everything, it was one of the most pleasant dental visits I've ever had. It turns out that all that Oxytocin flooding my brain while I was nursing made me feel pretty relaxed about the whole visit.

    I don't think I'll bring Ada along for next week's cavity fills, though.

    To Work Or Not To Work

    I don't know! But I got an email from my boss yesterday, saying that if I'm coming back, I need to do so by May 1! That feels like tomorrow.

    Pros to working:
    • I have the best possible arrangement for working part-time with flexibility, in a good job. Millions of people would love to have what I have. It would be wasteful to throw that away.
    • If I do decide to go back full-time at some point, I have kept the lines of communication open, my "skills" current, haven't interrupted my career track too much, etc.
    • When I went back before, when Ellie was 15 months old, I loved it.

    Cons to working:

    • Arranging for childcare for the girls is stressful.
    • Paying for childcare for the girls would be very expensive.
    • Nursing/Pumping/Bottles/Argh!
    • Less schedule flexibility (travel, doctor appointments, etc.)
    • I'd probably have less alone time with Ada, unlike the time I have now while Ellie's at school.
    • I don't know if I want to. My job is a little different than it used to be.
    Plan of action:
    • Call Ellie's old preschool/daycare and see what my options are
    • Feel around for a babysitter to come to the house
    • Check with Special School District to see what the Extended School Year schedule looks like (summer school for kids with IEPs/special needs)
    • Go to work dinner next week and see how it feels to be "back"

    Comments? Thoughts? Reflections?

    Edited to clarify: I'm talking about 10-15 hours per week here, not 40 or more.

    Monday, April 02, 2007

    Magical Moment Monday

    I was tagged, so I'm slipping this in right before Monday becomes Tuesday.

    What magical moments do you have in your life?

    This morning, I woke up at 6:00 feeling concerned. Surely Adelaide couldn't have slept all night? She went to bed so early (for her). I went into her room across the hall and checked on her (so amazing that she's in her own room already!) and found her peacefully asleep, a sunbeam across her crib.

    I'd no sooner snuggled back into my bed and pulled the warm covers up to my chin against the crisp early morning breeze from the open windows, then Eleanor woke up and came into our room.

    I scooped her up and plopped her down between Paul and me, where she curled up and went back to sleep for a few minutes.

    I lay on my clean pillowcase, sun on my face, glorying in a beautiful morning, everyone else sleeping for a few precious minutes before beginning the day.